Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer death in the United States behind smoking. It kills an estimated 22,000 people each year. It is colorless, odorless, and completely invisible to the naked eye. Those reasons alone are sufficient enough to test for radon.
The US EPA recommends testing your home once every two years. There are many reasons for this. First, testing is cheap compared to the long term health effects of high radon exposure, thus making it a good investment in preventative health.
Second, soil conditions under the home can change. Radon is released from rocks and soil underground, as soils settle and break down, radon levels fluctuate. It is important to know if a radon mitigation system that was installed years ago is still working as it should.
Lastly, radon mitigation systems are not lifetime systems. Many fans last a decade or more; however, some do fail within a few years. Oftentimes when a fan fails, a busy homeowner will not notice. Without a functioning fan, a radon system will hardly function at all. Other problems can arise from day to day living as well: system seals can break; crawlspace barrier can rip from improper storage of Christmas decor or a crazy game of hide and seek; PVC piping can be jostled loose by Dad in the attic; or a landscaper could bump gutter exhaust material. All of these scenarios have and can happen, leading to a malfunctioning radon mitigation system.
If you’re unsure how your radon system is functioning, call PDS and we can get you in touch with a qualified mitigator in your area. You can also test on your own to get a snapshot of your indoor radon levels with the PDS short term test kit.
Test often and be sure your air is safe.
Common misconceptions about Radon testing
“My neighbors don’t have radon, so I don’t need to test.”
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about radon. Radon gas levels vary considerably, even block-to-block, house-to-house, and room-to-room. In addition to the changing soil directly beneath your home, the way your home is built has a lot to do with how much radon is inside. Newer, “tighter” homes, typically have higher radon levels. HVAC systems that don’t efficiently exchange air can trap VOCs and radon in your home as well. From the soil beneath your home to the furnace you bought, many things change your radon risk. The bottom line: the only way to know your radon level is to test.
“I have an existing radon system, so I don’t need to test.”
As stated above, radon systems are not lifetime systems. Just like you wouldn’t expect an air conditioner to last your entire life, clean air appliances, such as radon systems, do not always last forever. There are many connections that can fail. House conditions, changes in weather, and everyday living can wear down components of a radon mitigation system. While qualified mitigators build these systems to last, things can always fail.
“My realtor told me there’s no radon here.”
Radon gas is everywhere, it’s an element in the periodic table. It is found in all 50 states at levels above 4.0 pCi/L. Realtors and home inspectors are people too, and they are susceptible to the same common misconceptions as you or I. There are a myriad of factors that go into buying a home and a realtor has a limited amount of time with a client. Just like they can miss a piece of broken siding, so can they overlook radon: the invisible killer. You really don’t know for certain if there’s radon in your home until you test.
“I don’t have a basement so I don’t need to test.”
Although radon concentrations are often highest in basements, that does not mean that they cannon be high in other levels of the home, or in homes without basements.
“I have a walk-out basement, so I don’t need to test.”
Similar to the above, radon finds it’s way into all parts of the home. While levels fluctuate throughout the year, and are often lowest in summer months when windows and doors let fresh air in from outside, you cannot be certain that your levels are not dangerous until you test. An open window or door does not qualify as a proper radon mitigation system.